Best of Intentions

This blog is something I want to write on a regular basis so much. With everything that is going on right now in addition to moving and testing my brain is taxed to the limit. When I get home at night during the week, all I want to do is stare at the television and not think about anything. The drive to work and back is definitely starting to take its toll on me. One hour there and one hour back (if there isn’t traffic in the afternoon) is two hours a day I could be relaxing, working, sleeping, cleaning, or anything we don’t do on a regular basis now.

On Tuesday we applied for a rental house much closer to our work. Our drive will now only be about 20 minutes instead of an hour plus, and the house will be much larger than our current one. The price was also right, since it was cheaper than the other houses we were looking at. I’m excited to live in a housing development with an HOA. The yards will be nice, the sidewalks will be taken care of, and I’ll be able to walk my dogs without worrying about crazy people out and about (or at least not as much). I’m also excited to see what the neighborhood will look like during Christmas, since it seems like the kind of place people drive through to see the nice lights.

We had to compromise on some things. We were hoping for a fenced in backyard so that we could continue to be lazy about letting the dogs out, but when we saw this house it was something we were willing to give up, especially because it seems like it would be easy to walk the dogs. Other than that we got everything else that we wanted. The kitchen is huge with ample counter space. There is a two car garage. The master bathroom will officially be the best bathroom I have ever had with a separate (large!) shower stall and a deep tub that is TOTALLY going to host some relaxing baths. 🙂 I’m not even sure what we’re going to do with all of the space, but I can’t wait until the end of March, when we’ll be moving.

I hope that once we move things will calm down and I can start writing here on a regular basis. This is something I really want to do. I want to build up a readership and comment on the blogs of others. I want to be part of a community online. So I’ll keep posting when I can and hope for the day that I can spend an hour every day adding to the online universe.

A People Puzzle

When I first began teaching I was very naive. I thought that everyone would value music education at the same level I did, and I chose every battle that came my way in defending this belief. I made enemies three times faster than I made friends, although the friends I did make definitely made dealing with the enemies more bearable. It was clear that while I had great knowledge concerning music and music instruction, my ignorance concerning politics and dealing with people got in the way of me performing my duties effectively.

The skills involved in solving the ever changing people puzzle of education are not taught in undergraduate coursework, nor are they encouraged in the first years of teaching. In most states a teacher can be fired in their first year for any reason and the administrator or supervisor doesn’t have to tell them why. After four years of academic coursework, a (in my opinion) piddly internship which the student has to pay to take as course hours, and an interview for a job to work with a large group of strangers with whom they may or may not be compatible, they then have to navigate their first year of employment under constant fear that if they make one false step, if their principal doesn’t “like” them, if a coworker complains about them, they could be fired and they would never know why. Honestly I would not be surprised if these firings had more to do with relationships among colleagues and communities and less to do with whether the new teacher knew how to teach.

As I step off my soap box, I am reminded that there was no one to help me navigate that part of the transition. I learned through the emotionally costly  trial and error process. Despite the emotional and professional costs and mishaps along the way I became adept at recognizing certain personalities and eventually I also became adept at dealing with them. Every school is a people puzzle, and if you enjoy or are at least good at puzzles, changing your behavior to be a part of the puzzle isn’t as difficult as it sounds.

This week I will be exploring five of the most prominent personalities within a school and how to best deal with interaction with them. In addition to that I’ll also be explaining how to make them work for you if you choose to be more active or proactive.